Teaching Traveling: How can an American art teacher manage to travel all over the world? Read this exciting story of Anita Horton, creator of ArtTeachTravel.com to find out.
Anita, tell us about yourself.
Anita: I am an artist and have always been interested in other cultures for inspiration in the arts and in building global relationships.
After graduating from Missouri State University in 1982 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Certification to teach art K-12, I moved to Dallas with my then-husband and began a career in advertising and graphic design. I succeeded in this field, eventually becoming a Designer/Art Director for the JCPenney Company. During this time I became a mother and, in time, decided to work for myself as a freelancer.
Very satisfied with this career move, it came as a surprise when a private school in the Dallas, Texas area approached me about starting a sculpture department at this college-prep school. I hadn’t been looking for a job; they found me based on the artwork I had been exhibiting in my city. It was a tough decision and I struggled with it, but eventually felt led into accepting this new challenge. Not much time went by before I became so very grateful that I had accepted this new direction for my life! I fell in love with teaching art and have just completed my eleventh year as a middle and high school art teacher.
TT: Fabulous! So, where have you traveled?
A: Prior to 2006, I had been on a couple trips to Mexico and even to Kenya, Africa on a mission trip, but as an artist I had always dreamed of going to Europe. After my marriage ended, I changed the way I paid my bills and began to charge everything I could, paying the bill off each month, to earn mileage points. I was diligent about this as I was trying to earn enough points to take my then high school aged daughter to Europe before she graduated from high school.
TT: Were you able to accomplish this travel goal?
A: Yes, but another adventure came along first. It was the beginning of the school year in 2005. All arts and humanities teachers at my school are inundated with educational travel catalogs enticing us to put together an international trip for our students. Most all my colleagues simply tossed these catalogs in the trash and considered them as junk mail, but I didn’t. You see, I so longed to travel that I would cut pictures of Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower out and make simple collages out of these printed photos.
It was during one of these times that I was cutting out pictures that I ran across a survey inside the catalog promising a possible trip to Europe. Typically I am not a coupon-clipping, survey-taking person, but I filled the survey out and tossed it in the mail, and then promptly forgot about it and the school year got underway. It wasn’t until the following May of 2006, that I was contacted by this educational travel company and was told that my name was randomly selected to travel for FREE to London and Paris with 19 other educators! I couldn’t believe it! I WON!! This trip forever changed my life and my love of travel.
TT: Love it! Were you able to go to Europe with your daughter?
A: In the summer of 2007 I did take my daughter to Europe and we travelled through France, Italy and Austria. It was fabulous, and the love for travel grew for both of us. We loved the unique qualities about each of the countries we visited and would have had a terrible time choosing a favorite.
Then another crazy-good thing happened. In the spring of 2008, because I was on the mailing list of the above mentioned educational travel company, I was sent an invitation to come to a north Texas Introductory Meeting to hear about their program. It was on a Wednesday evening and I had no plans so I rsvp’d that I’d be there. Approximately 100 north Texas educators showed up to learn about these student-travel opportunities.
After the presentation, they passed out raffle tickets and announced they were going to give away a few teacher trips. Yes, you guessed it. Unbelievably I WON another trip; this time to Scotland! I could not believe it!
After I’d had my fill of kilts, bagpipes, castles and the infamous Scottish food, haggis, I added a few days to this trip and also visited a friend in Bath, England.
TT: Amazing luck! Where else have you traveled?
A: Since then, I’ve continued to travel domestically, but last year spent almost the entire summer traveling through both England and Turkey!
While in England I visited London, staying with a former student of mine who now lives there! That was a thrill! I also traveled to Bath, to Devon, the Cotswolds, Weymouth and Jersey Island.
From London I flew to Istanbul and immediately was captivated by the sounds and tastes of this European/Asian city. From there I traveled to Izmir and then onto the villages of Cesme and Alacati. Each time I travel to a new country, it becomes my favorite and then I begin dreaming about the next one I’ll visit.
TT: How have your travels impacted you?
A: Travel has so impacted my life that I am now actively participating in the very real possibility of moving overseas to teach in an international school. I’ve been researching this idea for four years and I felt like I was turning into a file cabinet of stored information.
Because of this, I started a blog at ArtTeachTravel.com where I am giving away all my research to teachers of the world so they can both find ways to live life passionately, travel inexpensively and consider international teaching themselves. I have written articles on how to begin this type of life change, and I’ve highlighted various educational recruitment companies available to work with. Additionally I give links to many blogs and websites that I’ve discovered along with tips on how to be brave and live life on your own terms.
TT: So useful! How have your travel experiences benefitted your students?
A: My students know that I LOVE to travel. Many of my art project ideas are based on artists or subject matter from other countries. I feel like these young students, more than ever before, need to be exposed to the world’s people and cultures. Any information I can give them that will enable them to become more loving and appreciative of people from around the globe will be a lesson that will benefit them for years to come.
TT: So true. Thanks so much for your wise words, Anita! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?